Forced marriage doctor wins court ruling

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The Independent Online

An NHS doctor who says her family held her captive for four months and forced her to marry in Bangladesh today won a court ruling preventing her from being removed from the UK against her will.

Humayra Abedin, 32, from east London, was granted injunctions by a judge who warned that the British courts would act "swiftly and decisively" in cases where there had been a "gross abuse of an individual's human rights".

Mr Justice Coleridge, sitting in the High Court's Family Division in London, said the orders were to protect Dr Abedin "and prevent her being removed from this country again without her consent".

For "anyone of any age" to go through a marriage without their consent was "a complete aberration of the whole concept of marriage in a civilised society", he declared.

Dr Abedin, who has lived in the UK since 2002 and is training to be a GP, returned to Britain on Tuesday.

She was freed by a Bangladeshi court on Sunday after London's High Court ordered her release under the new Forced Marriage Act, which prohibits an individual from being married against their will.

On her return Dr Abedin said that on November 14 she had been forced to marry a man of her parents' choice and went through a wedding ceremony "under duress".

She was in court today as her counsel, Hassan Khan, told the judge that she had travelled to Bangladesh on August 2 on a return ticket to see her mother after being informed that she was ill.

But when she went to the family home in Dhaka on August 5 she was "manhandled" into the property by a number of people and immediately locked in a room. She was monitored by guards and had her passport taken from her.

In proceedings brought under the new Act Mr Justice Coleridge issued injunctions against Dr Abedin's parents, a paternal uncle and the man she was forced to marry.

Mr Khan said she now wants to continue her GP training "and to continue with her life in the UK where she considers her home to be".

He told the judge that a petition to have the marriage nullified was likely to be issued "in due course should this be necessary in this jurisdiction".

In a statement after the hearing Dr Abedin was described as being "deeply upset by what has occurred and the treatment she has suffered".

It said: "She does not wish for her parents to suffer any punishment for what has been done by them to her. She is their only child."

The fact that she has had to "assert her rights and her dignity in this way against her parents" was a "source of great sadness for her".

Outside court Dr Abedin said: "I'm very happy to be back, but I'd like to get back to my life. I'm looking forward to starting my job."

Her solicitor Anne-Marie Hutchinson said of the case: "The profile it has received means that other people will feel that they can come forward and seek the relief that, as Mr Justice Coleridge said, they're entitled to."

Miss Hutchinson added: "He's emphasised what's been said before, that forced marriage is a breach of human rights, and where it happens this court will deal with it if cases come before it."

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